Subject: AFP: Australia pledges support for East Timor's security after UN pullout

Agence France Presse

November 19, 2003 Wednesday

Australia pledges support for East Timor's security after UN pullout

SYDNEY, Nov 19

Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison began a two-day visit to East Timor Wednesday, saying Australia wanted to see the young country remain secure after the withdrawal of a UN support mission next year.

Speaking after his arrival, Ellison said he would meet with Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato to reinforce Australia's determination to assist East Timor develop an effective police force.

"Australia's investment in the security of East Timor is clearly in the interests of both countries," he said.

"Australia is determined to offer the highest possible level of help in ensuring that the people of East Timor are protected by effective law enforcement.

Issues to be discussed include people smuggling and money laundering. The visit comes amid a new push by Australia for more influence among its neighbours, having led an intervention force to the Solomon Islands and pledged to send hundreds of police to Papua New Guinea.

In August, Australia announced it would work in partnership with East Timor under a 40 million dollar (28 million US dollar) initiative to provide training and management for the country's new police force.

The Australian Federal Police have a 42-strong contingent in East Timor.

There are concerns about attempts by disaffected militiamen across the border in Indonesian West Timor or their allies in the Indonesian military to destabilise East Timor, which last year became the first newly independent country of the third millennium.

cmc/sdm


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